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Yesterday I received a bill from a medical group in California for $4.81 that they claim is mine, significantly past due, and will be sent to collections and my credit report if I don't pay in 15 days from the date of the letter (which is already passed since I was on vacation for 2 weeks and just got back). The bill is not mine as I live in Washington and have never lived in nor had any medical care in California, not to mention that it's from a neonatal/prenatal group and I've never been pregnant, let alone had any children needing those services.

I immediately wrote them a letter, sent it certified, return receipt requested, and faxed a copy to them, denying that it's mine. Later yesterday they called my home (I didn't give them my number, so they must've got it when they found my address). I was not home, so they spoke with my husband and told him that since the bill was under $25, it had already been "written off" as of August 5th and would not go to my credit report or collections.

I immediately wrote them another letter and faxed it, reiterating that this is not my claim and asking them to send me something in writing that they are not pursuing this further. And that I want all contact from them in writing, and that they are not authorized to speak with my husband or anyone else on my behalf.

Since this just happened yesterday, I obviously have nothing in writing yet about it being "written off." But is there anything else I need to do to protect myself? I'm due for my free annual credit reports a month from now and intend to check them. I just don't want this to pop up again a year or more from now, tell me that they "found" some major bill that I allegedly never paid, and then I have the nightmare of fighting something I know nothing about.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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I was not home, so they spoke with my husband and told him that since the bill was under $25, it had already been "written off" as of August 5th and would not go to my credit report or collections.

Then you're done. Simple as that.

If you want to be excruciatingly formal about things, which you don't want to be unless you're a lawyer and get to bill someone $300 an hour with a minimum increment of 6 minutes, then you send them the following letter and bill someone $30 for it.

Dear Medical Group,

I am writing in regards to account #234241, a bill which you allege that I owe in the amount of $4.81. Your representative Cindy spoke to my husband about it on the August 4th, indicating that you are not going to pursue it due to the dollar amount falling below your threshold for sending an account to collections.

While that is an acceptable resolution to me, I continue to deny that I have ever incurred any debt to you.

As the distinction between "Owes money which we will not attempt to collect" and "Owes no money" is legally meaningful, I request that you send me written acknowledgement that I owe you no money. In the alternative, if you are not prepared to conclude that I owe you no money and do not wish to expend resources researching the matter, you can send me written acknowledgement that you forgive the alleged debt described by #234241. Either of these resolutions would fulfill our mutual goal of definitively resolving this issue without consuming additional staff time or legal expenses.

You may additionally wish to investigate whether an error in your billing system is assigning bills to me incorrectly. As I have mentioned to you before, I have never received treatment at your facility. Should the customer who you believe to be me incur additional bills, and should you attempt to enforce them against me, I will be forced to excercize my legal options to avoid sustaining damage to my finances and reputation. The resolution at that point will be much, much more expensive than taking commercially reasonable steps to guarantee accuracy now. The fact that you were informed of the error, via certified mail, will not go unnoticed by the judge.

Thank you in advance for your resolution of this matter.


Ima Stickler
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In my experience in medical billing, written off is written off. That stuff (in my experience) doesn't get sold to scavenger collectors presently. I don't think you have to worry.

Still, it is annoying that they have somehow associated it with you.

My guess is it's for someone with the same name that came back returned mail and somehow they got your address on it.
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A year or so ago, I started receiving bills from Quest Diagnostics for small amounts, under $10. I figured out that due to a change in billing at my doctor's office and a change in the terms of my insurance, the labs that had been billed through my doctor (and covered under my copay) were now being billed for by the lab, and the amount sent to me was what was not being covered by insurance.

Who was frustrated by this process since he had no idea what the lab was charging or how much insurance was covering until he received the EOB, plus he was paying more for the same dang services he had received the year before...
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